WASHINGTON—Senate Assistant Majority Leader Richard Durbin (D-IL) introduced legislation on Wednesday aimed at stopping the rapid deforestation of Armenia and Haiti, and restoring their native forests to their pre-1990 levels within 20 years, reported the Armenian National Committee of America.
“We are pleased to support Senator Durbin’s introduction today of the Haiti Armenia Reforestation Act, and welcome his leadership in seeking the timely adoption of this legislation aimed at promoting sustainable growth and authorizing ‘debt-for-nature’ swaps for Armenia and Haiti,” stated ANCA Executive Director Aram Hamparian.
“We value and respect Senator Durbin’s record of support, dating back to his service in the U.S. House, for the full range of issues of concern to all friends of Armenia, notably his past leadership, during the 110th Congress, as author of the Armenian Genocide Resolution.”
The Haiti and Armenia Reforestation Act would assist the two countries in developing proposals that:
- Encompass widely-accepted environmentally sustainable forestry and agricultural practices;
- Improve forest governance in ways that engage and protect local communities and groups;
- Enhance coordination among relevant Haitian and Armenian ministries and private organizations; and
- Develop short- and long-term performance metrics to measure results, to include technology to monitor the results of conservation efforts.
The bill also authorizes debt-for-nature swaps for both nations. Under this mechanism, a nongovernmental conservation group would work with the Haitian and Armenian governments and international creditors to trade debt for commitments and plans to reforest and protect key tracts of land.
The ANCA’s support for this reforestation measure is part of a longstanding dialogue with Senator Durbin on strengthening the U.S.-Armenia relationship and helping to meet the many challenges facing Armenia and the Nagorno Karabakh Republic. Among the Armenian American community’s most urgent priorities in this regard are the pressing need for strong American deterrence against Azerbaijan’s escalating threats of war, and unequivocal U.S. efforts to end Turkey’s shameful denial of the Armenian Genocide and illegal blockade of Armenia.